20. The New Thought And The Bible.
THE New Thought and the Bible have a common end. Their purpose is to make people intimate with God. An inadequate interpretation of the Book has put the Father far away. It is really a record of the divine intimacies of gifted and developed souls. It gives an account of their lofty thoughts and experiences, and suggests the way in which we may cultivate similar states of consciousness. Such attainments are possible to all men.
In biblical terms all are children of God and created in his likeness. The Book introduces the “Spirit of Truth.” The outer paves the way to the inner. The “Teacher” within is the guide into all truth.
Institutional religion—in consequence of taking the Bible superficially and intellectually—has largely become a matter of belief or assent to certain statements, whereas spiritual truth is only spiritually discerned.
The intellectual basis for religion causes a lack of spiritual oneness, divides the modern religious world into numerous denominations and sects, and accounts for the present lack of works and demonstrations which should index the power and vitality of the developed spiritual life.
Religion is a feeling, an aspiration, an attitude, a spiritual temper; and in the attempt to define it exactly in creed or doctrine, its essence exhales and escapes.
The use of biblical texts merely as words, or as proofs of some special doctrine, virtually hides their inner and spiritual significance. To be enslaved by words is to lose the underlying harmony and oneness which glows beneath the letter.
As the Bible is an Oriental Book, in which truth is cast in terms of symbolism, metaphor, hyperbole, allegory, parable, and general. poetic expression, literalism has largely stripped it of its power. Emphasis upon special forms of words has an unspiritual and restrictive influence. We want the fruit rather than the shell.
The true use of the Bible is that of emancipation. It is the great liberator. But it must be approached with open mind and without preconceived bias.
The Bible is the best book in the world, and it is right for all to retain it as their text-book. Each will find—as in a mirror—that which corresponds to his own growth and present state of spiritual development. More and more its inner spirit and meaning will be uncovered. Each will translate the text in the light of his own life, experience, and deeper consciousness, and get just that strength and inspiration for which he is fitted.
The Bible does not claim any monopoly of truth. It does not originate in its pages. Its truth is truth because it is everlastingly true. It is not the fault of the Book that it has been abused through superficial interpretation.
The New Thought honors the Bible, and heartily indorses the transcendent spiritual message, in its unity, which is shadowed forth in so many different forms and conveyed through such a variety of personal channels.
While the New Thought teaches that in the last analysis spiritual authority must be within,—the divine element in man,—it reveres the Bible as being the most comprehensive and universal spiritual educator externally which the world has known.
A recent writer well says: “If one desire to benefit others through his teachings, he should present what he has in the form that will permit of its acceptance. One must talk to others in their language if he would have them understand him. If others demand biblical language, the truth may be presented to them in that form. And if it is necessary that each proposition advanced be sustained by Bible authority, the requirement is one that may be satisfied readily.”
All the fundamental propositions of the New Thought are plainly taught in the New Testament. But philosophy, idealism, and psychology, together with recent experience and demonstration, each adds its quota in re-enforcing the Bible, and all together they form an impregnable combination.
The Bible being the textrbook of religion, with the fact that the New Thought forms a practical and fundamental part of religious truth, intertwines the two into complementary relation.
The healing efficacy of the spiritual forces which are stored in the individual is so plainly iterated and reiterated in the New Testament that it is surprising that it has not had more general recognition.
No language could be plainer than that which is contained in the recorded words of Jesus as to the power of faith and the validity and permanency of the “works” and demonstrations which should characterize those who believe. It is not necessary to quote them, for they are familiar to every Bible reader. They are as numerous and bright as are the stars of heaven upon a clear night.
The New Thought practically applies the spirit and substance of the Bible to daily Life. The world cannot find sustenance in its abstract doctrines, but it is hungering for their concrete expression.
The Bible and the New Thought present the same truth,—the one in ancient and Oriental form, and the other in modern phraseology. But Truth is one and unchangeable.